I’ve already written a lot about the 12th House. But, I’m keeping my series on the houses going with yet another article on it, as I haven’t written one yet in this series. And as I’ve said before, you never truly get to the bottom of the 12th House. Instead, it’s truly the bottomless pit of your chart because it’s the place where boundaries don’t totally exist. Everything blurs in your 12th House as it’s where we fully transcend the “personal” and gain access to the “universal.” You might have an empty 12th House but don’t think that it’s not influencing you. Everyone has a sign on their 12th House cusp, at least. And that sign shows the universal part of your humanity that simultaneously belongs to you and doesn’t belong to you at all. Of course, if you actually have any planet(s) in the 12th House, this feeling of being here and not here affects you more profoundly.
When I was in college, I went through a phase where I was really into reading about philosophy. I was particularly interested in existentialism: a theory that basically teaches that life can be as meaningless as it is meaningful. Jean-Paul Sartre is probably the most famous existentialist and one of his most famous books is called “Being and Nothingness.” It’s been a long time since I’ve read it but I remember the whole theory of existentialism having quite an impact on me. There was something about the “nothingness” that Sartre spoke about that made a lot of sense to me because, in some sense, I had been living with it. I have my Saturn and Neptune all in the 12th House. And as a 12th House person, life seems to revolve around being and nothingness.
Inside of your 12th House is a wide range of characters and archetypes. Since this house has no boundaries, you can literally be whoever you wish to be in this house. You aren’t “bound” by anything or anyone via your 12th House cusp or planet(s). Yet, this can also bring on a feeling of crisis. If you can be anyone, just who you are? The 12th House is the part of our birth chart where we are at our vaguest and most confused. So many different energies, messages, impressions, and visions reside within the 12th House that it overwhelms us. Then, we can veer off into the nothingness end of the spectrum, just floating away in this sector with no end goal or no real consciousness of what we’re doing. It’s like living out a dream and, often times, while we’re awake.
It’s so different than the self-defined energy of the 1st House. The 12th House is the end of the birth chart wheel, while the 1st House represents the beginning. In our 1st House, we receive our “label.” We play this role in a clear manner. In the 12th House, there are too many labels to list. So, just what role do we play? I’ve mentioned before that whatever sign or planet is in your 12th House represents something that somehow was not “allowed” in your early years. You received the message that you either shouldn’t or didn’t have to express those traits. Sometimes, there’s a theme of shaming, guilt, repression, or even abuse going on, especially if you have planets in the 12th. If your 12th House is empty, you were probably just told that the traits of your 12th House cusp’s sign didn’t matter. You didn’t have to worry about that! So, you shoved it back into your unconscious.
Those with either Cancer on the 12th House cusp or the Moon in the 12th are given the message that they don’t need to examine their emotions. Just keep on moving, stay strong, and don’t stop to recognize what you’re feeling. Maybe you were also given grief, directly or indirectly, for being sensitive or expressing your emotional needs. So, you lost your conscious awareness of your feelings. With the 12th House in Virgo, you weren’t allowed to be critical of other people, even if it was constructive or in a way that expressed your intelligence. Therefore, these are traits that you began to repress. I do think that everyone has some form of repression to work out, whether it’s major or minor. Whatever you’re not totally dealing with can be found in your 12th House, as it’s so easy to remain blind, deluded, or in denial here.
When you feel like whatever’s in your 12th House doesn’t matter, then it’s easy to ignore the expression of these traits within yourself. Repressed energy never disappears. It only emerges in another form. With the 12th House sign and/or planets, this is through dreams, unexplainable feelings, anxieties, phobias, or premonitions. This is the house of the spirit and it’s where things haunt us, on many different levels. The concerns of the 12th House are at times seen by the mundane world as “not existing”, just like the signs and planets here can be treated like they don’t exist throughout your life. But, they definitely do exist. They just don’t exist in a very straightforward, clear-cut, practical way. You have to conduct a séance to bring them to the light.
Those with a 12th House Moon or Cancer in the 12th often don’t really understand their emotions until something spooky or outside of themselves happens to get them to “wake up.” It usually takes such uncanny or mysterious happenings to get a person to stop being oblivious to what they’re feeling or why they’re reacting the way they are. Going back to the 12th House in Virgo, someone with this placement can be oblivious to their judgments of others, as well as their sharpness and efficiency, until they are sort of lost at sea. It’s not until they’re confused, overwhelmed, or drained by life that their acute intelligence and work ethic dawns on them.
That’s how the 12th House works. It’s like being in a dark room and trying to find the light switch. You have to walk through the dark, not knowing where you’re going, uncertain of where the light switch is until you fumble around and find it. If you just have a sign on the 12th House cusp, you are going to have to take the nonlinear, in-the-dark approach to figuring it out. Say you have Aries in the 12th. You might be blind in the expression of your anger, passion, sexuality, or assertiveness. Working out that side of yourself is like walking through the dark. But, eventually, you will find the light. We aren’t meant to remain blind when it comes to our 12th House energies. We have to learn how to discover them and then start expressing them with the light on.
I say all of this as a person with three planets in the 12th. I’m sure all of my 12th House people can relate to me saying that it truly took me many years to even begin figuring out these planets. For a long time, I just thought, “Yeah, they mean I have psychic moments, bad emotional boundaries, and that I’m very sensitive and artistic.” But, other than that, they just felt super-vague and confusing. I’ve been studying astrology for eight years and it literally wasn’t until last year that I finally turned on the light when it came to my 12th House Saturn and Neptune. Until then, I’d spent my whole life stumbling around in the dark. People with planets in their 12th House have a much more overwhelming running theme of obliviousness and denial that we have to work through.
Saturn represents fears, worries, and doubts. With Saturn in the 12th, it took me forever to wake up to how bad my anxiety could be and how my melancholy could totally spin out of control. Neptune is right at home in the 12th, symbolizing fantasy, intuition, and sensitivity. Having Neptune in the 12th made me unconsciously live out my sensitive side, doing my best to keep up a thick skin in spite of how much everything could affect me or how much I could live in my own fantasies and illusions.
So, it wasn’t until I hit a major wall about a year or so ago that I was forced to come to terms with these planets. And, without irony, it was through a period of isolation. The 12th House is called “the house of isolation” but it shouldn’t be viewed fatalistically. I say that all the time. Don’t worry about the old-school, doomsday interpretations of the 12th House. But, yes, in a way, you do have to experience some isolation here. This house is about being alone, to a certain extent. Everything has to clear away. I said this in my Saturn in the 12th House article: this is the house where you realize that you’re going to die alone. Fun times? Not exactly. That’s why all of us 12th House people can be so plagued with an indefinable spell of the blues. We know that everything eventually has to come to an end. We know that the alternative to being is nothingness. But, to dwell in your 12th House, you have to be willing to face nothing, to confront the void, and to find peace with it.
In doing so, you will find peace with whatever is in your 12th House. Entering this house is a meditative state, in some sense. It’s transcendent, allowing you to engage with another reality. That’s why I associate spirituality and art so much with this house and it’s why people with 12th House planets are invariably very spiritual and/or very artistic. In a way, you are kind of “dying” in this house, in order to rise above your own ego and enter a new state of consciousness: whether it’s through peaceful acceptance, awareness of the forces of the Universe, or imaginative journeys as another person or through another world. Therefore, you cannot be selfish and ego-driven about your 12th House placements. They cannot be used for personal gain. They have to be used in order for you to understand your greater connectedness to humanity and the Universe. So, you have to sacrifice this sign/planet(s), from the beginning, in order to benefit from it.
Say you have the Sun in the 12th House. This one can be a tough one, as it represents the personality itself. Yet, your ego expression cannot be ego-driven. You must use your personality in order to bring out the personality of others. Your confidence must be directed toward helping other people find their confidence. Now, with Saturn and Neptune in the 12th, I have quite a tall order. I’m meant to spiritually guide other people toward purpose (Saturn) and healing (Neptune). I cannot seek these things selfishly. That’s not the point of the 12th House and if you don’t like that, complain elsewhere. Worldly concerns have no place here. I have to use these planets in order to bless other people’s lives and constantly remind myself that we are One.
I’ve read that the 12th House also represents one’s prenatal state. I think that’s very true, especially if you consider a couple of things. The first is that the 12th House precedes the 1st, which symbolizes one’s birth experience and the way you entered the world. Well, the 12th House shows what was going on before you came into the world. A lot of us didn’t even have a name yet before we were born. Being in the womb is that 12th House state of existing yet not existing, at the same time. It’s also a very symbiotic time, as the baby is intertwined with the mother. The umbilical cord connects baby and mother not only through physical nourishment but emotional response.
It’s the reason why being born with 12th House planets often means that your time in the womb was quite a dramatic one. Mothers with children who have 12th House planets were usually very stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, or conflicted while pregnant with them, which sets us up for a lifetime of taking in other people’s feelings and problems all the time. 12th House people, in many ways, constantly wish to return to the womb. That doesn’t mean that you cannot separate from your mother, although such relationships can occur between mother and child. It just means that you somehow long for the peace of not being separate, in general. Yet, it’s a difficult thing for us to articulate. It’s why we end up spending our lives with such an interest in communicating with the Divine and escaping into art, as well as why we can feel so isolated. People with planets in the 12th are painfully aware of separateness but also idealize, secretly or not-so-secretly, that state of oneness, where we are all sharing the same umbilical cord, so to speak.
I could say so much more about this house but it would take forever. Signs and planets here contain multitudes. They are like a separate Universe within that you need to unlock. That’s why I just laugh when I hear all of this doom-and-gloom stuff about the 12th. As someone who’s highly influenced by this house, I can tell you that it’s not the easiest house but I truly think that it’s the most beautiful, magical house in the birth chart. Your 12th House is an ocean, in and of itself. All you have to do is go for a swim, trusting in the flow and not worrying about what’s at the bottom.